Adult novelty store owner wants to be a good neighbor

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Jasmine’s Red Room gets the okay from Evansville inspectors, but west side neighbors are hesitant to buy in to the adult novelty store.

The owner, who wants to keep his identity hidden in the media, says he hopes to be a good neighbor. He believes most issues are only a misunderstanding.

Jasmine’s celebrated its grand opening Tuesday at the store on Upper Mount Vernon Road near Sonntag Avenue.

Some neighbors worry about adult novelties being in poor taste, but others wonder if it’s even following city code.

Mike Yellig stopped by to see what the store looked like after hearing about its opening.

“I’m an old Westsider, this don’t belong here,” Yellig said. “I think it’s going to bring the wrong kind of crowd in here.”

The owner says his store primarily sells lingerie, though it does have other adult novelties.

“I know there’s people out there that don’t like what we’re doing,” the owner said.

From the street and even the parking lot, most people passing by would never know the store is there. A Jasmine’s sign is still on the way to be installed on top of the building.

A heavy glare from the afternoon sun made it a challenge to see inside the front window. The display is draped with a black background to keep anyone from seeing too far into the store from outside.

Michael Lockard with the Westside Improvement Association represents the concerns of some neighbors. He wants to ensure Jasmine’s window displays stay subtle. 

“There’s kids that walk back and forth to their schools, and we just want to make sure they’re not exposed to something that really is above their age level,” Lockard said. 

“If they always have it displayed that way, we’re probably not going to have any issues with it.”

The owner says the opening has been frustrating at times, dealing with opposition in the shadows. “It’s coming from directions we didn’t know it was coming from,” he said.

Other concerns from neighbors rise from zoning and use of the building. The definition of adult store, according to city codes, is one which has a “substantial (30 percent or more)” of its revenue in adult products.

But how they measure it is vague in the code.

“Are they measuring it per piece? Are they measuring it by floor space?” questioned Jasmine’s owner.

He said an inspector with Area Plan Commission confirmed on Tuesday the store is below the 30 percent threshold, which means he can operate within 1,000 feet of homes.

Had Jasmine’s products been more than 30 percent “adult” it would need to have special regulations and be offset from residential and other properties lines.

Eyewitness News left messages for APC Director Ron London and Assistant Director Blaine Oliver but phone calls were not returned.

Jasmine’s owner is confident there won’t be any other issues with the city.

Lockard said he wants to work with the store to make sure it fits in to the neighborhood.

“We’re not against the store,” Lockard explained. “We’re not against the people doing the store, we’re just concerned about the location and the adult oriented products.”

Jasmine’s owner wants to be a good neighbor. He says he’s aware of his surroundings and doesn’t want to offend anyone.

“I think they’re going to come in and be like, ‘This isn’t at all what we thought it was.’”

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This story was originally published on April 2, 2019

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